Unit 2 - Lesson 11

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Unit Two – Lesson Eleven
What questions did the Framers consider in designing the
3 branches of the national government?
The Preamble
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We the people (of the United States) in
order to form a more perfect union,
establish justice, ensure domestic
tranquility, provide for the common
defense, promote the general welfare
and secure the blessings of liberty to
ourselves and our posterity do ordain
and establish this constitution for the
United States of America
What did the delegate think about
the balance of power among the
branches of government?
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Many thought an IMBALANCE OF POWER between the
branches would bring tyranny
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The King had abused the excessive power he possessed
Parliament controlled the other branches, thus could abuse their power
Creating a weak executive created other problems as well
The challenge to the Framers was to balance the power
given to the federal government
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They created 3 branches with SEPARATED POWERS (aka “checks and balances”)
Questions about Legislative Power
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Congress intended to be a “deliberative body” – a place to debate
issues and avoid hasty decisions
A Bicameral structure made it difficult to pass laws, especially at the
whim of the majority
The power to make laws is the greatest power of the government –
wanted to avoid the corruption of the Parliament (getting
appointments for doing what the King wanted)
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The Virginia Plan would have given Congress “plenary” powers meaning
unlimited and undefined – including vetoing state laws
The New Jersey Plan had more defined powers for Congress
The Constitution had “ENUMERATED POWERS” – powers
specifically listed in Article 1 Section 8
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“Necessary and Proper Clause” gave Congress the power to make all laws
needed to fulfill the 17 enumerated powers
Questions about Executive Powers
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The Framers wanted to give the executive branch enough
power and independence to fulfill its responsibilities
The Executive needed to be able to act quickly when
necessary to protect the country, preserve the peace or in
international relations
The Framers DID NOT want to give the executive so much
power that they could abuse it
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1 or more chief executives?
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How long should the chief executive serve?
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Decided a single chief executive would be easier for Congress to watch over as well
as having executive departments to further break apart the powers
7 years was proposed but thought to be too long
4 years was decided upon
Should the chief executive be eligible for reelection?
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The chief executive should be able to run for reelection (no term limits)
How should the President be elected?
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The Framers feared the selection of the President would be
used to benefit some at the expense of others
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DIRECT ELECTION: rejected because the Framers did not believe
the citizens at large would know the best candidate or that big states
could outvote those from small states an gain advantage
INDIRECT ELECTION: by state legislatures or Congress rejected
because they feared “corruption or self-serving groups.” They also
feared Congress could manipulate the President. The Framers
included a section saying Congress could neither increase or
decrease the President’s salary
ELECTORAL COLLEGE: the committee created a new group to
select the president, with no ties to any part of the government
Watch electoral college clip (http://www.anywherelibrarian.com/?p=547) & give handout
The Electoral College
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Organized once every 4 years
Each state would select its “ELECTORS”
Each state would receive the same number of electors as they
had elected members of Congress (House & Senate)
Each Elector would get 2 votes – one of which had to be from
a state other than the elector
The person who received the majority of votes was President.
The person who received the next most votes would be VP
If no majority (tie), the House of Representatives would vote
for the President and the Senate would vote for the VP
Although complicated, it seemed the best solution to choose
the best candidate for President. Many believed the House
would end up selecting most of the Presidents because few
would have national recognition
Judicial Powers?
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A national government needed a court system to decide cases
involving its laws
Judicial Branch would complete the system of separation of powers
Judges should be appointed by the President and confirmed by the
Senate
All criminal trials should be trial by jury (important check of power)
Only the Supreme Court is created in the Constitution
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Congress given power to create lower courts
** Judges should be independent of politics. Decisions based on best judgement free
from political pressures
**Judges should hold office “during good behavior” meaning they could not be
removed unless impeached or convicted of treason, bribery, or other high crimes
and misdemeanors”
Checks and Balances – Shared Powers
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Some powers shared (by 2 branches)
 Power to make treaties (executive/legislative)
 Power to appoint cabinet members and ambassadors
(executive/legislative)
Some powers shared by 2 levels (state and federal)
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Power to Tax
Power to Borrow Money
Establish Courts
Regulate Interstate Commerce
Provide for the General Welfare
How powers were divided
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Several KEY Strategies used to “check”
powers
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Veto
(President & Legislature have veto power)
Appointments (President appoints, Senate approves)
Treaties (President makes treaties, Senate confirms)
War
(President is Commander-in-Chief but Congress
has the power to declare war)
Impeachment (House brings charges, Senate tries case)
Judicial Review(Supreme Court has power to rule acts
of government unconstitutional)
Reviewing the lesson
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Why did the delegates enumerate the powers of Congress? Why didn’t
they enumerate the powers of the Executive and Judicial Branches?
What issues did the delegates have regarding the organization of the
Executive branch and how did they resolve these issues?
How did the delegates ensure the Executive branch had enough power to
fulfill its responsibilities, but not so much power that it could dominate
the other branches?
What is the Electoral College and why did the delegates decide to create
it?
The delegates designed the Judicial branch with the goal of making it
independent of partisan politics. What constitutional provisions
contribute to judicial independence? What constitutional provisions
might threaten that independence?
Has the checking and balancing relationship among the three branches
intended by the Framers been maintained? Explain your answers giving
examples

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